It’s funny how my colleagues are now taking the email facility as their main mode of communications. It is as if the workers here have all lost their mouth and therefore their ability to communicate through analog vibrating air signals. I’ve even seen peers sitting next to each other in their cubicles, emailing to each other. No wonder we are going backwards in terms of productivity.
Don’t blame the productivity plunge to Facebook, online arcade games, instant messaging or SMS. I think largely, our time in office are bogged down in front of our terminal, reading every word that email server throws at us. At the same time, we try to read in between the lines as to what the writer really intends to say.
Many a times, we try to write as subtle as possible (trying hard not to offend anyone) but that may backfire as the reader may not get the gist of what you are trying to say. Misinterpretation causes more loss of business productivity time. If only we picked up the phone, dial the recipient and communicate. Saves time, save money, save face.
It took me 5 minutes to type all this in a blog post, but it took me the whole morning to clear my emails which arrived over the weekend. Time for lunch.
In my career as a manager, I worked a lot with fresh graduates; the ones that were wet behind their ears; the ones that were eager to start climbing the corporate ladder. Being one who have worked with them, I spent a lot of time coaching them, guiding and reviewing their work. One of the things that I noticed is the various approaches they took when proposing or initiating some projects. Here’s my 5 steps in brief:
Step 1 – Determine the Need
The first step to any proposal is to determine the need of such a project. If need cannot be identified, look at benefits. Question yourself, “What benefits can this organisation/customer derive out of this initiative?” Need can be easily identified if customers tell you that this is what they require in their business operations or there is a need for compliance.
Step 2 – Determine the Work and Cost
This step is where the bulk of the effort is. Determine the best solution out of the many possible solutions. Based on the identified solution, determine the work required to carry out this project and the budget that you need.
Step 3 – Justify the Cost Against the Need/Benefit
Creative thinking is required here. You will need to compare and contrast the budget you need against the benefits that can be derived out of the project. For intangible benefits, try your very best to equate a number to it. Accountants love numbers.
Step 4 – Decide
This is by far the easiest step of all. Get your management or your customers to decide. You may need to do a presentation, so be prepared.
Step 5 – Execute
Project management kicks in here. Another cycle of planning through closure. Prepare the champagne.
Today’s corporations are continuously measuring their employees on their performance and contribution to the overall organisations growth. Going are the days where apple polishing your superiors would ensure a good appraisal for that year. Nowadays, everything is about numbers — more specifically, measurable numbers that can be translated into the organisation’s goals.
As managers, the challenge is to set appropriate numbers for our team members to ensure that:
- The organisation’s goals and objectives are reflected in the KPIs
- These KPIs can be easily measured
- These KPIs are logically achievable
- Team members are able to excel if they put in efforts
One of the considerations I make whenever I set a new KPI is to take into account the above as well as setting the target low so as to let my team members know that these KPIs are achievable. 6 months into the measurement, I will then raise the bar so that my team members will not develop the lackadaisical attitude towards the new KPI but rather to push them to better their performance.
Apart from the above, one good practice when setting KPIs is to measure ratios instead of absolute numbers; e.g. profit margin versus profit; growth % versus revenue increase. Ratios are more meaningful compared to absolute numbers and takes into account of relativity.